No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, 10th Anniversary Edition

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A Reunion of Sorts

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By Felix Carroll (Nov 24, 2018)
The following was first published in the Winter 2018-19 issue of Marian Helper magazine. View the digital edition or order a free copy:

When David Reintjes turned back toward the tarmac, what he saw would haunt him.

Two military policemen, accompanied by a naval officer in white full dress uniform, were escorting a prisoner off a military cargo plane. David zeroed in on the prisoner. Black hair down to his waist, young, scrawny, an expression drenched in dark rage, he looked like a wild beast, "like something they just dragged out of the jungle," recalls David.

In the days to come, he would tell people about what he saw. In the years to come, he would wonder about that kid: What was his story, anyway? Why was a naval officer escorting him? Whatever became of him?

David recognized a semblance of his own troubled childhood in him. He prayed for him.

This past April, a full 30 years after that incident on the tarmac, David and the prisoner finally met face to face — under vastly different circumstances.

The boy has since become a man — his long black hair trimmed to a clean cut and the prison-orange jumpsuit replaced by all-black attire. The shackles on his ankles and wrists are long gone, too, swapped out for two distinctive symbols of servitude: a metal bracelet around his wrist and a stiff, white Roman collar.

That boy is now Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, a Catholic priest, author, popular speaker, and slave to Jesus and Mary.

About a decade ago, David of Jacksonville, North Carolina, received a CD in the mail on the life story of Fr. Donald, a man he had never heard of. He listened — to how Fr. Donald converted from a life of sin, crime, selfishness, and substance abuse to become one of the Catholic world's great evangelizers of Divine Mercy and devotion to Mary Immaculate. That testimony included details of a certain day at a Honolulu airport. The proverbial bells clanged in David's head.

"That's got to be that kid I saw!" David said to himself.

David would wonder about it for years, until this past spring when he learned Fr. Donald was to speak at a Catholic conference in nearby Raleigh. That prompted him to finally reach out, via email, and then to meet him in person. David explained to Fr. Donald how, 30 years ago, when he served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps, he was in Hawaii for a meeting with the commanding officer there. That's when he saw this young prisoner in chains.

"We confirmed the location and date," Fr. Donald said. "I am that young boy he saw — and I am that priest! His prayers had power in my life! It's incredible."

Father Donald's testimony has since become the bestselling Marian Press book No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy. In December, the Marian Fathers will celebrate 10 years since its publication by releasing a special anniversary edition.

The book — like the CD testimony David first listened to — sheds light on that moment in
Honolulu. The 15-year-old Donald Calloway had recently been captured by Japanese authorities following a crime spree. Joined by his mortified step-father, the naval officer in white, he arrived in Honolulu en route to Pennsylvania, where he was to be institutionalized.

"I was still so angry and defiant that they literally handcuffed me to the plane," Fr. Donald writes. "We were transported on one of those C-130 cargo planes where there's cargo in the center and webbed seating on the sides. They strapped me in to a webbed seat and positioned an MP on both my left and right. Then they chained one of my legs to an MP and one of my arms to the fuselage."

Father Donald continued, "My handlers knew I had absolutely no regard for life — not theirs, not even my own. They were convinced I would do something stupid to put everyone in harm's way. In a certain sense they were right because I was, quite simply, out of my mind."

He writes that, once inside the terminal in Hawaii, "I screamed and shouted the most vile obscenities at any passerby who made eye contact."

Though the young Donald was on his way to an institution, he also was on his way toward a powerful conversion through the intercession of Mary Immaculate.

No Turning Back has since inspired thousands of people around the world, including David, who has much in common with Fr. Donald.

He, too, had a naval officer for a father and grew up on military bases. He, too, had an independent streak that got him into trouble with the law as a teen. He, too, caused a lot of pain for his parents and other loved ones.

As he grew older, he abused alcohol. He was an unfaithful husband. All of this, until he found himself at the end of his rope begging for God's mercy. His prayers led to a powerful conversion. He hasn't had a drop of alcohol for 38 years. Jesus and Mary also eventually removed his struggles with sexual sins.

Retired, David, 67, and his wife, Shawna, have four grown children. David volunteers as a counselor for men in recovery from substance abuse, pornography, and other sexual sins. One of the tools he uses with these men is Fr. Donald's testimony.

"That is so powerful for these guys in recovery," he said, "because they don't feel much hope. They've been beat down, beat up, and some are still involved with their drugs, pornography, or prostitution, or whatever their deadly sins are. They think, 'If God could do that to this guy, Fr. Donald, there's hope for me.'

"It's just a blessing to know that the gifts of the Church can restore us," David continued. "The life you were living can change — just like Fr. Donald's changed and mine changed."

He added, "It was amazing to finally meet him."

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